ACLU of Massachusetts communications director Christopher Ott wrote the following guest blog.
Richard Collins didn't "tell"--but he still paid a heavy price under "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" (DADT), the US military's policy against lesbian and gay members of the armed forces. DADT finally becomes history today.
The Pentagon honorably discharged Richard Collins, a decorated Air Force staff sergeant, after someone spotted a kiss he gave his boyfriend off-base, and not in uniform. Ordinarily, service members involuntarily discharged after more than six years of service get separation pay to help them get started again in civilian life. Under DADT, however, the Defense Department adopted an obscure, arbitrary policy of only providing half the separation pay to those discharged because they were gay.
Now that DADT is gone, the people it harmed deserve to be treated fairly. An ACLU class action suit challenging this policy gets a hearing in federal court on Thursday. As Collins wrote the other day in Stars and Stripes, "for someone who has just had his military career destroyed, that money makes a big difference... We gave our all in serving this nation. The Pentagon should not give us half in return."
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